Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences experts are offering current, comprehensive information to Coloradoans on the dangers of West Nile virus, especially owners of horses, mules, donkeys and other equids.
Although drought conditions in Colorado have reduced cause for concern about West Nile virus, a disease spread by mosquitoes, two cases of infected birds were reported in Houston, TX, in June. This represents the closest the virus has come to Colorado's borders.
"We have been monitoring the slow, westward progression of the virus, so the news from Texas isn't surprising," said Dr. Lance Perryman, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.
"Protecting public health is part of our responsibility, our mission as a school of veterinary medicine. So, when we can do so, we provide clear, concise, useful information and make it widely accessible. An educated public is a safer public."
West Nile virus was first detected in North America, in 1999, in New York. Subsequent surveillance has reported cases in approximately 27 states and the District of Columbia. Last year, there were 738 cases of the virus reported in equids, in the United States.
As with other arboviruses, West Nile virus is spread through a bird-mosquito-bird cycle and transmitted to mammals, including humans, through the bite of an infected mosquito.
According to the Center for Disease Control, in Atlanta, GA, there have been no documented cases of person-to-person, animal-to-person or animal-to-animal transmission of WNV.
Currently, there is no vaccine available for humans. There is a conditionally approved vaccine for equids, which is available only through a licensed veterinarian.